There may not have been a breakout hit device at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, but plenty of gadgets still made tech geeks take note. Hayley Tsukayama highlights some of those products:
1) 3D Systems Cube printer: 3D printing is one of those areas of tech that really does seem like it could change our lives...if only it could catch on. For those unfamiliar with the idea, a 3D printer spits out plastic instead of ink to make small, functional items for the home such as cookie cutters, chess pieces and even shoes. The Cube 3D printer is one of the first to flirt with a somewhat consumer-friendly price range, starting at $1,299. While they’re unlikely to be in every home any time soon, this is a step toward making 3D printing more commonplace.
2) HP Envy 14 Spectre: This stunning Gorilla Glass-covered ultrabook is HP’s first ultrabook for non-business consumers. It weighs in at just 3.9 pounds and measures just under 0.8 inches thick. With a good display and Beats-brand speakers, the ultrabook is sure to be popular with the fashion-forward — just watch out for fingerprints.
3) Sharp Aquos Smart Board: White boards are yesterday’s news, if Sharp has anything to say about it. The idea of a smart classroom is another idea that’s failed to really catch on, though there are smatterings of smartboards in colleges and universities across the country. With the Sharp Aquos Smart Board, business executives and professors can really take the point home with 80-, 70- or 60-inch screens.
4) Dell XPS 13: While not as visually stunning as HP’s latest ultrabook, the Dell XPS 13 has been getting high praise from tech watchers for its i5- (or i7-) powered insides and its edge-to-edge display. Starting at $999, this super-slim computer is competitive with the MacBook Air in form and price.
The Associated Press reports that “cheaper tablets, thinner laptops and an array of sleeker TVs” were the standouts of this year’s convention:
Cheaper tablets — The industry’s enthusiasm for tablets was considerably tempered this year compared to last, when more than a hundred manufacturers thought they could capitalize on the iPad’s success with their own models based on Google Inc.’ Android software. Sales were disappointing, in large part because Apple prices the iPad relatively low compared to the cost of making it. Then, late last year, Amazon.com Inc. demonstrated that you can take on Apple by selling a smaller, barebones tablet for $199. Analysts believe Amazon sold millions of Kindle Fires in little more than a month.
Now, Asian manufacturers are hoping to jump on Amazon’s bandwagon. One of those companies, Taiwan’s AsusTek Computer Inc., showed off a tablet with a Fire-sized screen and said it would sell it for $249. It’s considerably more powerful than the Fire, sporting a premium “quadcore” processor. Still, one of the things that made the Fire a success — Amazon’s library of e-books, music and movies — will be missing.
Nokia Lumia 900 — In recent years, the world’s largest phone maker, Finland’s Nokia Corp., has practically been a no-show in the U.S. market. That’s hurt the company badly. Now, it hopes to come back with smartphones that run Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone software. The Lumia 900 is its first such phone for the AT&T network, and the first Nokia phone to use AT&T’s faster wireless “LTE” network. In a sign of how much is riding on these phones, both the Microsoft and Nokia CEOs showed up for Monday’s announcement. The companies didn’t announce price or availability. T-Mobile USA, a smaller carrier, started selling a more modest Lumia this week.
Lenovo K800 — While Nokia’s been shut out of the U.S. phone market, Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, has been shut out of phones entirely. Its PC chips use too much power to go into a smartphone: they’d drain the battery in no time. That’s a big problem for the company, since PC sales are flat in the developed world, while smartphone sales are exploding. Now, Intel says a new line of chips is ready for smartphone use, and Lenovo Corp. of China is the first to take them up on it, with a smartphone to be sold in China in the second quarter. Outwardly, it’s indistinguishable from any other touchscreen phone, and it runs Android.
Brian Lam of Venture Beat also offers up his picks for the show’s most noteworthy gadgets:
A HOBO PHONE: The most important phone at CES is the SpareOne, a simple phone that can run off of an AA battery—perfect for stashing as an emergency phone along with a prepaid SIM card.
ART CAMERA: This is the only gadget at the show that melts my heart every time I think about it. Fuji has a new interchangable lens camera called the XPro-1 that follows up their adored X100 street camera, which even regular people lusted after. Why? The X100 looks like a rangefinder/leica, manual controls when you needed them, and took great photos with its fast, fixed lens. X1-Pro camera is the followup that will have changeable lenses and potentially be able to use Leica M mount lenses with an adapter, said Fuji. It will also have an awesome lens collection of three primes: a wide, 50mm equivalent and a modest zoom macro. These are the kinds of fast lenses that can give your photos those romantic out of focus backgrounds that make every place look like Paris. The body alone is $1700, which is DSLR priced, but the images should keep up with DSLRs of the same price. I want this more than anything else I’ve seen at the show, and I think I might get one over the also amazing Sony NEX-7 Camera, which is technically astounding but has a mediocre lens selection that is not worthy of a $1300 camera. If you want to know a LOT about this camera, check out DP Review’s awesome preview.
That’s all I care about in cameras at CES. But wow, I care about this camera a LOT.
A DRONE FOR THE REST OF US: The Parrot AR DRONE 2.0 is an update to the ipad-controlled quadcopter toy that makes it a bit more serious and a lot cheaper as a tool for aerial photography. The new one is better at staying in place (it has an air pressure sensor that lets it maintain altitude more steadily) and an HD wireless video camera. When I saw it running, the drone was loitering in place, occasionally flipping over in mid air. It is also cheaper than the last model than at $300. I want one. My dream is to fly one over the beach and film the ocean from above.
BIG TV: The real action in TVs is, as always, not with the mega high end concept televisions but the Panasonic and Samsung plasma TVs that are the ones people will end up owning.
Samsung’s amazing D7000 plasma HDTV was one of the best TVs of last year, and its follow up in the PNE8000, will also be great as a TV. It will have gesture and voice commands, which are a useful way to control the TV when the remote is on safari. Considering how hard it was for Microsoft to master Xbox’s Kinect and its voice and motion controls, it could suck.
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